Amphan: Heavy rains in India and Bangladesh as cyclone bears down

Heavy rains and winds are lashing parts of eastern India and Bangladesh as a super cyclone approaches.

Both countries have evacuated millions of people in preparation for Cyclone Amphan, which is coming in from the Bay of Bengal.

India’s weather department tweeted that Amphan was on course to make landfall “between afternoon and evening” local time.

The coronavirus has made evacuations more difficult for authorities.

India and Bangladesh have asked for schools and other buildings to be turned into temporary shelters – but they need more space than usual in order to house people while maintaining social distancing.

Police in India’s West Bengal state, which is expected to be badly affected by the storm, told the BBC that people were unwilling to go to the shelters because they were afraid of contracting Covid-19.

Amphan is the first super cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal since the 1999 super cyclone that killed more than 9,000 people.

Image captionSocial distancing being enforced in a cyclone shelter in India

More than 20 relief teams have already been deployed, and several more are on standby, Indian officials said

Amphan is expected to hit the coast with winds gusting up to 185km/h (115mph) – the equivalent of a Category Five hurricane.

Officials in Bangladesh fear it will be the most powerful storm since Cyclone Sidr killed about 3,500 people in 2007. Most died as a result of sea water surging in.

While the storm’s current wind speed is likely to reduce slightly before it makes landfall, India’s weather department is predicting storm surges as high as 10-16 feet (3-5 metres).

Source: bbc

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